US Geological Survey


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Published in the JOURNAL OF SEDIMENTARY PETROLOGY, VOL.5 7, No. 3, MAY, 1987, P. 512-521.


Vertical-to-inclined, cylindrical trace fossils that occur in the Upper Triassic Chinle and Dolores Formations on the Colorado Plateau are interpreted to be the casts of lungfish burrows. The casts, which are as much as 11 cm in diameter and as much as 1.6 m long, were formed by passive siliciclastic and carbonate sedimentation into apparently abandoned lungfish burrows. Locally, the burrow fillings are overwhelmingly abundant, and many intersect and have destroyed former burrow fillings. Superposition of bioturbation episodes has obliterated most primary sedimentary structures. This bioturbation has contributed to the mottled coloration and the knobby-weathering texture of the rocks. The burrow-fillings occur ubiquitously in three lithofacies, comprising 1) purple- and white-mottled, silicified sandstone and siltstone, 2) red and brown siltstone and mudstone, and 3) pink and green limestone. These strata were deposited in a continental environment that included fluvial channels and floodplains, sand sheets and playa mudflats, and lacustrine basins, marshes, and deltas.